Pasadena-based Southwest Chamber Music participates in exchange with Vietnamese musicians

In downtown Los Angeles tonight, an ensemble of musicians from Vietnam and Pasadena will perform works by young composers from both places. It’s the last concert of the Ascending Dragon Music Festival and Cultural Exchange.

For the past few months, Pasadena-based Southwest Chamber Music has been participating in the major cultural exchange with musicians from Vietnam.

"We’ve been working for the US State Department on the largest cultural exchange in history between Vietnam in the United States," said Jeff von der Schmidt, the artistic director of Southwest Chamber Music in Pasadena. "It’s a project that is about encouraging young emerging cultural leaders in Vietnam."

The musicians have performed together and given talks at local schools. At St. Andrew School in Pasadena, they performed a work by 32 year old Pham Minh Tham, a teacher at the Vietnamese National Academy of Music. His composition is one of four commissioned for the cultural exchange.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. Jeff von der Schmidt said the Vietnamese no longer dwell in the past about the war in Vietnam.

"Some of my friends there have described it as a part of a huge Buddhist karmic cycle, and now we’re in a new cycle," he said.

He made those friends early in the exchange when he and his musicians traveled to Vietnam for 3 weeks and played 5 concerts in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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